November 6, 2013 What better choice for my first Movie of the Week post than my all time favorite movie: Once Upon a Time in America. Released in 1984, it is the final work of the great Sergio Leone, more famous for his Spaghetti Westerns starring Clint Eastwood. This is the final film in a loosely strung together trilogy. It was preceded by Once Upon a Time in the West and Duck, You Sucker (Also known as Once Upon a Time….The Revolution). It stars Robert De Niro and James Woods, and follows their lives from their days in the Prohibition as Jewish kids in the ghetto, to their rise and fall as gangsters in the 1930s, and the fallout following a guilt ridden De Niro up to the 1960s. For the most part it is told non-chronologically, and Robert De Niro shines in one of his greatest performances as he portrays a young, love stricken gangster, to a depressed and lonely man in his later years. The score, done by the master Ennio Morricone, is one of the most haunting and memorable scores of any movie I have ever seen.
The movie itself has a troubled past. It was shown at Cannes to standing ovations, rave reviews, and definite Oscar buzz, but then legal issues arose. The movie was trimmed down about 100 minutes, edited into chronological order, and then released to America and was immediately bashed by critics, and sunk into infamy. It wasn’t until the advent of DVD, when it was reedited back into the original vision of the film that Leone once had. The final running time it is now at is about 4 hours long, definitely one of the longer movies I will recommend on here, and since new footage has recently been found, we can soon expect an even longer cut of my all time favorite movie. I am eagerly anticipating the day that it will be released. I hope you will enjoy this film too. You can find this film on Netflix.